The day after Dag Hammarskjold was killed, I went to his office on the
38th floor of the U.N. Secretariat building. As I stood in the empty
room, I could see in my mind's eye that blond and slender man greeting
me and asking me to sit down at a low round table in one corner of the
room. There were many times in recent history when the only place in
the world where the representatives of great states could meet and talk
was at that low round table.
Sir Gladwyn Jebb of the United Kingdom suggested Lester Pearson of Canada,
but the Soviet Union objected.
At last Henri Hoppenot of France brought up the name of Dag Hammarskjold.
From that lime on I saw Dag Hammarskjold almost every day. He was at
the center of every major crisis—the Palestine question, the U.S.
fliers held prisoner in China, the problems of Suez, Hungary, Lebanon,
Laos and finally the Congo. He was a remarkable man to watch. He had
a penetrating intellect, quick to analyze a problem with great clarity
and imaginative in evolving solutions. Some people thought he was a hair-splitter,
but this was only his uncanny ability to see distinctions and shadings
and to realize that they were vitally important.
I have seen him work day and night without exercise, without fresh air,
without sleep, and still be effective.
This was only partly a matter of his constitution.
The world at large had a picture of Dag Hainmarskjold as a cool, distant,
machinelike man. This was not a true picture, but it was an understandable
He had once been a passionate mountain climber.
He collected painting and sculpture from Africa and Asia.
He once told me that he thought his job was to show nations "where
I find something symbolic about his losing his life in the Congo.
Behind every historic action, national or international, is the individual